Private Colleges Confirm Higher Grad Rates

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Your high school student is looking at attending one of two colleges.  Her first choice is State University with its huge campus, big athletic program and amazing technological center while her second choice is a small, private school big on academics but not much larger than the high school she now attends.

college studentOn the surface, the answer seems to be a slam dunk — your daughter will attend the big state university which has all of the amenities many of today’s college students want at a price tag you can afford.

Rethinking School Choice

Not so fast! According to at least one study, your child may fare much better studying at a private college than at a public college. According to data gleaned from National Center for Education Statistics, Kansas independent colleges graduate 7.3% more of their students within four years than comparable state institutions. This means that many public university students are stretching out their education for a fifth or sixth year, costing their families thousands of dollars more each year, narrowing the price differential between the two types of schools.

Financial considerations aside, these statistics also speak to the learning environment on many private college campuses. For some students private colleges provide an educational advantage when it comes to degree completion, offering the intimacy and challenging academic environment that they need to succeed.

“While obviously not for everyone, private colleges do offer an environment where many students can really excel,” said Doug Penner, President of the Kansas Independent College Association. “Kansas independent colleges and universities are particularly well-suited for students who value a strong sense of campus community, the opportunity to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities and leadership roles, and intensive interactions with faculty and advisors.”

Advantages of Private Schools

Of course, not every private school offers what students need, with some being of similar size and offering a parallel learning environment to public universities. However, many smaller private colleges can offer distinct advantages for students who thrive in this type of environment by providing the following:

Smaller class size — Many private colleges have a low teacher to student ratio. Whereas some public colleges have classes with several hundreds of students to one professor and a grad assistant, private schools thrive on intimacy by offering some of the lowest professor-student ratios in all of academia.

Access to professors — With fewer students to manage, professors routinely enjoy ample one-on-one time with their students. Office appointments are easier to make and students routinely meet directly with their professor, not an assistant.

Easier registration — At many small colleges, students find that signing up for classes is easy. With fewer students competing for classes, your chances of taking required classes each semester are higher than they are in many public universities. This alone can spell the difference whether your child will graduate with the Class of ‘014 or ‘015.

Much more personable — Some students simply do not do well when they are placed on a campus with tens of thousands of other students. For these types of students, knowing their classmates matters a lot as does having a good sense of belonging to the school.

Disadvantages of Private Schools

Of course, attending a private college does have disadvantages including higher school costs, limited class options and majors, fewer activities on and off campus, and if athletics is important to you, major sports programs.

Ultimately, your student will need to choose the school where she or he will most likely thrive as well as one a school that you can afford. If affordability is a problem, sit down with the school’s financial counselor to see if additional assistance can help lower your overall costs.

Source: Kansas Independent College Association

Adv. — Did you know that billions of dollars of college scholarship money is available each academic year? There are thousands of different scholarships available some are based on grades, others on ethnic background, with many given based on need. Don’t let a financial opportunity pass you by — have your high school student apply for as many scholarships that he or she is eligible to receive.

Photo Credit: Stephen Joos

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